British Prime Minister Boris Jonson has reportedly expanded his plan to tunnel under the Irish Sea to a four-way network with a roundabout under the Isle of Man.
"We're an imaginative bunch, there are lots of ideas floating around," one government source told the Express. “If the Faroe Islands have ideas like this, then why can’t we?”
But Michael Matheson, the transport minister in the Scottish National Party-run devolved Scottish administration, called the idea a “vanity project” that would never happen.
The Sunday Times first reported the new scheme, dubbed "Boris' Burrow" by sceptical officials, cooked up after his original 2018 plan for a bridge from Stranraer in southwest Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland hit a wall.
The original 25-mile route would have crossed Beaufort's Dyke, a 30-mile-long and 1,000-foot deep trench in the sea where 1.5 million tons of unused high explosive munitions and chemical weapons were dumped after the Second World War.
The latest wheeze would be to build four tunnels, including two from the ports of Liverpool in Cheshire and Heysham in Lancashire, all meeting at the subterranean roundabout — reportedly given the provisional name of "Douglas Junction" after the island's capital town.
Boris Johnson’s plan to build three tunnels under the Irish Sea connecting in an “underground roundabout” beneath the Isle of Man has been described as “batsh*t” by Johnson’s senior aides— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) February 21, 2021
Via @thesundaytimes pic.twitter.com/9YD39LTZ8d
One senior aide said the concept, while exciting and a potential boost to the post-Brexit and Lockdown economy, existed "primarily in the mind of the PM". One source dismissed the idea as "bats***", but another said that Johnson was so attached to it that it "cannot die".
"Just as Hitler moved around imaginary armies in the dying days of the Third Reich, so the No 10 policy unit is condemned to keep looking at this idea, which exists primarily in the mind of the PM," they said.
Johnson first floated the Northern Ireland road link idea in a 2018 interview, a year before he took over as PM from Theresa May.
"What we need to do is build a bridge between our islands," he said in a jibe at his pessimistic predecessor. "Why don’t we? Why don’t we? There is so much more we can do, and what grieves me about the current approach to Brexit is that we are just in danger of not believing in ourselves, not believing in Britain."
Like the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, the Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency but not part of the United Kingdom and is considered a tax haven. The island is also famous for the annual Tourist Trophy or TT motorcycle race along the public roads, as well as the tailless Manx cat breed.